TODAY’S meeting of the General Council of the TUC must go beyond considering the practicalities of a general strike and actually call one, Dave Wiltshire, National Secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance, told News Line yesterday.
‘The TUC have been considering the practicalities of a general strike since Congress last September,’ he continued.
‘The question now is to make them either get off the fence and call an all-out general strike, or face removal and being replaced by a new leadership that is prepared to go all the way in the war against this government and get rid of it.
‘That’s the only way forward for the whole trade union movement and the working class today.’
Today’s meeting of the TUC General Council is debating a document on the call for a general strike, submitted by its largest affiliate, Unite, with 1.4 million members, which says ‘such action is desirable’.
A general strike, says Unite, ‘would be a landmark in our movement’s recovery of its morale, strength and capacity to play a leading part in a society crying out for credible and honourable leadership’.
The Unite call follows the carrying of Motion 5 from the Prison Officers Association (POA) at last year’s Congress in Brighton, the last paragraph of which read: ‘Congress accepts that the trade union movement must continue leading from the front against this uncaring government with a coalition of resistance taking coordinated action where possible with far reaching campaigns including the consideration and practicalities of a general strike.’
POA General Secretary Steve Gillan told News Line yesterday: ‘First and foremost I’m delighted that John Hendy QC has been invited to address the General Council in relation not just to Motion 5, but his booklet entitled Days of Action.
‘This will enable the General Council to make informed decisions in respect of Motion 5, which called for a discussion of the practicalities and consideration of a general strike.
‘I am pleased that the General Council is taking the motion seriously and will indeed consider the practicalities of that general strike.
‘I think it is necessary to call a general strike, quite simply, as I said last September, because there is not one single union that will be able to take on this government and be successful.
‘But the trade union movement standing together, collectively fighting against austerity and having a general strike in our armoury, this for me, is essential.’
A PCS spokesman said: ‘Like others, we don’t believe a general strike is an end in itself, it’s part of a wider campaign.
‘We’re currently involved in a three-month campaign of industrial action in the civil service.
‘We recognise there would be a lot of work to do to bring unions together on this and co-ordinate the various disputes we have.
‘But these issues aren’t insurmountable and it’s a necessity in our view if we are to provide any kind of effective opposition to what the government is doing.’
An RMT spokesman told News Line: ‘We’re in favour of it. Bob Crow spoke at the TUC last year in favour of the general strike motion.
‘Our position is quite clear on this. This is what is required’.